Dine Around and Stay in Town

Dine Around and Stay in Town is an annual promotion in Victoria that many of us await enthusiastically. The simple reason is that we are offered a wide range of fine dining at very fine prices.

Each year Dine Around & Stay in Town runs from mid February until early March. You can select from three course menus costing $20, $30, $40 or $50 per person at over 60 Victoria restaurants. It’s our annual opportunity to sample local cuisine or to return to favourite venues to re-experience their offerings at excellent prices.

This year my wife and I went with in-laws to a restaurant we had been intending to visit for over 25 years but we had never quite got around to it. It was such a tasty meal – the range and high quality of food and wine which Vancouver Island offers is impressive, fresh foods from our community.

For accommodation during this event you can select from these Victoria bed and breakfasts.

Victoria tourism website

Old friends from the UK emailed me a couple of days ago confirming that they will visit us this year. They asked what there is to do in Victoria and could we recommend a Victoria tourism website. Needless to say, I sent them useful website links.

Our group of bed and breakfasts has a website which will give my friends much food for thought. Victoria attractions listed on the site include something for everyone:

  • From Canadas oldest China Town to the latest IMAX film,
  • From urban shopping to beach strolling,
  • From horse-drawn carriage tours to whale-watching tours,
  • From formal gardens to wild natural parks,
  • From wineries to restaurants,
  • Eight short award-winning videos.

Our bed and breakfasts are located on the Saanich Peninsula. This is just 30km / 20 mile long, from Victoria in the south to Sidney in the north. Here you’ll find the most popular Victoria attraction of them all, the Butchart Gardens.

 

So, here is a three part plan of action to help you prepare for a visit to southern Vancouver Island using this Victoria tourism website:-
1. Take a look at a map to get a sense of the scale and locations.
2. Browse through our website, especially the attractions page.
3. Book your Victoria bed and breakfast and ask your hosts any outstanding questions to make your trip the best it can be.

Running a bed and breakfast

Running a bed and breakfast is both rewarding and exhausting. One couple of Victoria innkeepers in our B&B association (above) leave today for a cruise on the Amazon. It has been a long summer and we are weary; ready for rest, recuperation, refreshment, relaxation, even some restoration.

Many of our guests on their B&B vacations ask us about life running a bed and breakfast. They are intrigued by the idea of having people staying in our home and wonder about all the hours we seem to work. So it would be interesting to answer some of those spoken and unspoken questions. Those considering operating a bed and breakfast may find this helpful.

1. The house.
Firstly, the house obviously needs sufficient rooms for B&B accommodations, not just bedrooms but also a communal sitting room/area and a dining room. An adequate kitchen, behind the scenes, is necessary too.

2. The property.
The setting of the house within a garden adds so much to the pleasures of staying at a B&B rather than a somewhat institutional hotel. We do not try to compete with the Butchart Gardens but aim to offer a setting for relaxation. This should be in a pleasant residential area where peace reigns.

3. The quality of the home.
Good quality decor and furnishings are rightly expected for comfort and ambience. Electronic amenities for today’s world are necessary too.

4. Investment.
Add together the costs of 1, 2 & 3 and the investment costs are obvious. The number of bed and breakfasts is declining as new B&Bs are not opening due to the total financial commitment in today’s property market.

5. Time.
The other great resource. Different methods of operations can reduce time commitments but generally B&B innkeepers are: hosts (at any hour of the day), front desk, concierge, chef, server, housekeeper, gardener, maintenance staff, administrator and book-keeper all in one!

That’s the down-side, a heavy commitment to money and time. However:

6. Free smiles
Giving and receiving smiles is part of life in a B&B.

7. Relaxation.
The hosts may have little opportunity for this but guests are relaxed, once recovered from travelling, and this relaxed attitude spreads from guests to hosts. Sometimes I wonder if a happy relaxed businessman staying with us is really that pleasant back at home, but quickly dismiss this negative thought and we enjoy sharing our lives for these brief days.

8. Appreciation.
Few things make life better than appreciative comments. “We wish we were staying longer” is a common comment, referring both to Victoria and to their accommodation.

9. Income.
Financial benefits are not strong on an hourly basis but a reasonable income can be achieved, especially if you have four rooms or more. There are also tax benefits, depending on location, such as business use of home, write offs and charging some expenses.

10. A summary.
At the end of the day, running a bed and breakfast is about people. They provide the work, the occasional problems and the frequent rewards.

Visiting Victoria in the Spring

Visiting Victoria in the Spring makes good sense after the mild winters we usually experience on southern Vancouver Island BC. Avoid the crowds, stay at low season rates at Victoria B&Bs and enjoy the new life all around as Spring bursts into life.

Spring in Victoria is epitomised by displays of flowers. In February 2016 local residents counted 26 billion (!) flowers at the annual Flower Count. (Victoria likes to remind snow-bound Canada of its good fortune.) So where better to start than at The Butchart Gardens? Visit before 31st March to see their Spring Prelude indoor garden within a week they transform their Blue Poppy Restaurant into this delightful garden oasis. See their Spring displays of daffodils and massed tulips.

There are many more gardens to enjoy as March daffodils turn to April tulips and then the May rhododendrons and cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

Other festivals, special events, displays and concerts range from the Victoria Film Festival in early February to the Swiftsure Yacht races in late May.

Victoria is located on the small Saanich Peninsula surrounded by the rugged natural parks, with lakes and ocean beaches. So, weather permitting, you can set out on foot or by car, or rent bicycles or kayaks and explore. There’s scope for taking it easy or having a tough adventure: your choice.

If it is wet then consider indoor options like the Royal BC Museum, Saanich Commonwealth Place with a superb pool, Butterfly Gardens, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, tours of Craigdarroch Castle or the BC Legislative Buildings,  select a venue for afternoon tea or just browse through interesting shops.

Your bed and breakfast hosts will be pleased to provide further information when you are visiting Victoria in the Spring.

Your Victoria B&B hosts

It might be said that your Victoria B&B hosts are a motley crew. This photo is surely proof of that. Further, we represent a motley selection of bed and breakfasts.

Here you see most of us, your Victoria B&B hosts, members of the Greater Victoria Bed and Breakfasts Association (three B&Bs were absent here). We were enjoying a cool but delightful tour of the Butchart Gardens followed by a splendid seafood barbeque at Corbett House B&B. (Here I should mention that Darren Corbett can provide all our guests with a three hour sailing trip on his 30 yacht at a special rate.)

I described our B&Bs as motley. One dictionary definition is acceptable made up of units not alike for we are all different, but Im not so sure about of different colours like a clowns suit.

In common, we Saanich Peninsula innkeepers operate a variety of B&Bs just north of the city of Victoria, in quiet country areas or small communities (the peninsula is about 30km / 20 miles north to south). We all provide a full breakfast along with accommodation, and we all offer free smiles.

However we are different in so many smaller respects. Some are near the ocean or lakes, others in rural countryside; some are modern, others traditional; some may (?) accept children though I think none accept pets; guest amenities naturally vary; all probably have wireless internet and some have greater business facilities; some have gardens; some offer packages and massages; some are near Victoria, others near Sidney.

To illustrate these differences I’m posing a quiz for you, with one question per B&B. The “questionable” value in this is that they may be one you relate to in searching for the ideal bed and breakfast in the Victoria area.

1. Which B&B has a landscaped train set in its gardens?
2. Where do ocean waves virtually lap up to your window?
3. Here your hosts speak Dutch, un petit peu Francais, und ein klein bischen Deutsch.
4. The only bed & breakfast I know offering a guest car wash.
5. Sleep in a Loft with five acres of parkland in sight.
6. Here you enjoy breakfast overlooking Brentwood Bay.
7. Your host speaks French (from birth), Spanish and even a touch of Bulgarian.

Answers are to be found at your chosen Saanich Peninsula bed and breakfast!